FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 5, 2013
After two years of futile negotiations, the Diocese of Brooklyn was reluctantly left with no other recourse but to sue Christ the King High School for refusing to re-affirm a longstanding covenant to return the school property to the Diocese under certain limited circumstances and for conducting, without the prior consent of the Diocese, various enterprises unrelated to a Catholic high school.
The suit seeks to compel Christ the King to abide by the terms of the agreement signed in 1976 to re-convey the property to the Diocese in the event there is no longer a Catholic high school on the premise. It remains the Diocese’s fervent and prayerful hope that each of the Catholic high schools, including Christ the King, will continue to prosper and serve the children of Brooklyn and Queens.
The suit also asks that the school provide copies of all leases and pertinent agreements for the various secular business enterprises that have leased portions of the property over the years. These include Continuing Education, a day care center run by the daughter of the school’s president and most recently a new Charter school.
Due to financial constraints encountered in the mid-70s, the Diocese restructured the Diocesan high schools in Brooklyn and Queens. At that time, the Diocese owned and operated six Catholic High Schools within the two boroughs, consisting of Bishop Ford, Bishop Kearney and Nazareth in Brooklyn and St. Francis Prep, St. John’s Prep and Christ the King in Queens.
The Diocese agreed to transfer title to the school property at no cost to non-profit corporations operated by religious and lay people committed to continuing to operate a Catholic high school at each of the properties. These agreements provided that the entire property could only be used for a Catholic high school and if the school closed, the property would revert back to the Diocese.
Although the other five Catholic schools have reaffirmed the right of the Diocese to regain the property should their school close, Christ the King has refused. Moreover, Christ the King has recently rented 50,000 square feet to a secular Charter school and again has refused to comply with the Diocese’s rules with regards to renting to a Charter school.
Since Charter schools directly compete with Catholic elementary schools which charge tuition, the Diocese requires that any high school or parish that rents unused space to a Charter school remit 40% of the rental revenues into the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Trust, which grants scholarships to disadvantaged students attending Catholic elementary schools negatively impacted by the Charter school. None of the money held by the Trust is turned over to the Diocese.
Although the various parishes and the other Catholic High Schools in the Diocese, who have leased unused space to a Charter school, have all agreed to remit 40% of its rental income to the Trust, Christ the King again has refused.
“It is sad that we have to go to these lengths to have the rights of the people who comprise this Diocese reaffirmed by the court,” said Msgr. Steven Aguggia, judicial vicar of the Diocese. “But it’s time for the Diocese to get a full accounting from the Christ the King’s board of what has transpired over the years.”
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